Mary’s Magic Box

Now that baseball season has started, it’s time to restock ‘the box.’ It’s big Rubbermaid that fits just behind the driver’s seat in our van. In it you’ll find nearly everything a mom would need to keep a bunch of little kids occupied and fed and dry and warm when forced to remain outdoors for long periods of time.

–An extra outfit or two. Stretchy sweatsuits in ‘boy’ colors work best and fit the broadest range of kids. Boy colors because a boy who’s just spilled a drink on his clothes will no way, no how consider putting on a pair of pink sweats, no matter how drenched and cold he is.

— Extra diapers and wipes. Duh.

–Granola bars and juice boxes.

— Jackets, gloves and hats

–Crayons and color books

–A couple handheld games

–A few Hot Wheels and Betti Spaghetti dolls

In the back of the van, I’ll toss a blanket, a ball toss game, and 4 lawn chairs or so. I have a great little lawnchair for the little kids that is a double. I love it because it doesn’t tip over near as easily as the single chairs for little kids.

Yeah, basically it appears we’re packing for a camping trip, not a ball game. In fact, if the day promises to be really hot, I will sometimes toss in the tent too– a fun kids pop-up that buys me at least an inning or two of peaceful game-watching—(that is, if I wear earplugs to drown out the inevitable “Stop pulling it over!” “Stop looking out my window!” etc…)

That reminds me, I promised to share my potty trick. I mentioned how far away from the ball field some of the bathrooms are. It actually gets worse than that–one of the fields has NO bathroom at ALL. Nor a tree thicker than my 3 year old’s waist. Forcing a mom to pack all the young ones into the van in the middle of the game, drive a quarter mile to the nearest Chevron station, and take care of business there.

Unless you have my handy-dandy potty kit. It consists of the basin from under a child’s potty chair, some plastic sacks, a couple of cut-in-half diapers, and some disinfecting wipes. Here’s my trick: I put half a diaper IN the potty seat BEFORE the child uses it. Then, you see, the diaper soaks up the moisture. No sloshy liquid to spill. Nothing to dump. Just sack up the diaper, wipe down the basin with a disinfecting wipe, and sack up the wipe. Then bag up the basin for the next emergency.

Fortunately my van has a big empty space in the back AND tinted windows. So the child has perfect privacy, and WAAYYY cleaner surroundings than a porta-potty frequented by 11 year old boys….. ((shudder)).

By the time they’re old enough to object to this system, they’re also old enough to ‘hold it’ for an hour or two. So it works out perfectly. I do take the kids to the bathroom if it isn’t a mile away, but at least a couple times a season my potty kit is a real sanity-saver.

So, there ya have it. The final, awful item in Mary’s magic box.


  1. That potty-trick is brilliant! (We used to just put the whole potty chair in the trunk of the car and put the kids in the trunk if they insisted they needed to pee. WITH THE TRUNK LID OPEN, of course.;))

  2. wow that is a great trick!! I will have to remember that!! when I go to my Uncle's ranch, we get the cabin with the outhouse so I take pullups with me and when they wake up having to pee I tell them to put a pull up on…pee….then take it off and go back to bed….no middle of the night outhouse trips for me in grizzly country thank you very much!!
    this is our first year of baseball…..fortunatly the main field is directly across the street from our house!!

  3. Oh, my goodness, this was a GREAT post! I'm going to print this one out and restock my truck.

    Yes, baseball season has hit us, too. 😉

  4. Wow, Mary. That is genius! Wish I had known that when mine were younger.

    And, I can tell you live further north than me. Those crayons would melt in the car here. :0

  5. Wow! What a great idea! You are a smart, smart, SMART lady!

  6. We have a 'van bag' filled to the brim with all sorts of goodies, much like your box. It sure comes in handy! And the potty? Awesome idea.

  7. That is a great trick. The box sounds like a lifesaver.

  8. Our baseball season doesn't start for another month, but when it does, I'll be ready. Thanks for the great tips!

  9. Ok you are truly brilliant! I am so not surprised you are the mother of a small army!! hehe! I love the Magic box and the potty trick…that is awesome!!

  10. Don't forget to pack the kids !
    HAHA – Isn't it amazing all the stuff you need to pack. It's a wonder there is anyroom for the kids.

    Don't forget the stroller or you'll never get any shopping done.

  11. Brilliant, Mary, brilliant! I've been known to put the whole potty-chair in our 15 passenger van…but I like your idea better!

    I guess this just goes to prove that after 9 kids and parenting for 25 years that there's still lots of little tricks that I need to learn!


  12. Oh, I like your potty trick! Will have to try that as soon as Mia is out of diapers.

    I have a similiar box in my van, and you have me motivated to get busy and update it for baseball season. I also bring a small cooler on the nights we will be there for more than one game…..which is going to be quite frequent. It is fun, but chaotic.

  13. The potty trick is awesome, not gross at all. Excellent advice that I plan on keeping in mind for when I need it in a year or two.

    I have a big rubbermaid box in my van too, but right now it holds mostly blankets and cleaning supplies for my car.

  14. Where was that trick when all my kids were little? Waahhh. I missed out on using it and that makes me sad. I will pass this incredible bit of wisdom to my grandchildren though. It will go on!

  15. Wow! Have I ever mentioned how grateful I am to have found you. You give so many great tips that I hope I remember in the future… otherwise you'll be getting a lot of "Help me!" emails. So clever you are!

  16. Mary,
    What a great idea! When we were kids, on long trips, Dad would almost never stop. Mom would take one of the 8 lb. lard buckets or a 3 lb. coffee can, with a lid, and fill it with toilet paper. We had to get down in the floor board and use that many a time. Cars were much roomier then, and I was much, much smaller, too! LOL 🙂
    No disposable diapers at that time, either. Pampers came out around 1970. I remember it well, my Mom danced a jig, ;).

  17. Okay … I have a quiet confession that I will share only with you… I keep a lot of things in my car that I feel I might need if I'm out with my 6 month old… things to entertain him, things in case the weather changes, or he has an "accident" of any kind … snacks, etc.

    BUT … I never thought to put it all in a box… it's just sort of all over the place, nd my car looks junky and dirty… and drives my husband insane.

    And thanks for the potty trick. My husband plays a lot of softball, and this will come in handy when we start potty training!

    Thanks for sharing your experienced wisdom!!!

  18. Oh, and I wonder … would those new twist up crayons be less likely to melt than regular crayons?

  19. That potty idea is so amazing!! I am going to have to remember that one this summer (year!) It was a great list and I think I am going to copy it and have all that handy in our van too!

  20. first time in your neck of the woods. hi! i love that potty trick. wonder if it would work at the beach. i am planning in potty training my little girl this summer and we spend a lot of time at the beach.

  21. That potty trick is PURE GENIUS!!! The half of a diaper. You are so smart! I'm very impressed and not a bit grossed out. Guess it's official, I'm a mom.

  22. Mary, I love this idea. But I'm so glad that my little ones are all boys..those gatorade bottles are just the right size for in transit desperation urination, just have to remember that it's not a new flavor and not to put it back in the cooler!

  23. Mary, you should write a book!

  24. Oh my! I wish I had known that trick back a few years ago. We would drive somewhere or if things got desperate?? back to nature…it's country up here!

  25. Last baseball season the younger two were both still in diapers. I've been wondering what I'm going to do with dd this year since she PTed. Now I know! Thanks for the awesome idea.

  26. wow…great tips!! I always think I go prepared and then realize NOT! I should keep a tote with everything in it. BRILLIANT i say BRILLIANT! Wow…8 kids, good for you. What a great mom!

  27. Mary, you have the SAME potty trick that I have, except we use sanitary nakins!

  28. I had to come off lurking mode to say WOW!! Thanks for the tips! My oldest will be starting soccer this fall and I will DEFINITELY be using the box AND the potty seat ideas!! THANK YOU!!

  29. You have SO many readers!! I had to scroll down a bit before I could get to the comment box! : ) So FUN! The Lord is using you : ) The potty trick IS GREAT! Thanks for the tips! And it's fun to know the "basics" in your behind the seat box! It's always good to get others helpful tips! We're not at the sports age YET, but will be soon!